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Bob's your uncle in a rich man's world - If you're seriously lucky
August 8, 2004
The Sunday Independent (Ireland)

BOB Greifeld still has a blazer that he bought for $ 95 in 1974. He was wearing it on Thursday night, at dinner in Luttrellstown Castle.

We had just finished the starter, a truffle cappuccino, when Bob decided to share the story of his blazer with 27 members of the Greifeld family. And me.

I was there at the request of a man called Gregory Patrick. He called me that afternoon, to ask if I'd like to join the Greifelds.

"We've got the best chef in America," said Gregory. "And we'd like you to judge the meal."

"Why?"

"Well, we just thought it would be fun to have a food critic at the dinner."

"That sounds nice, Gregory, but I've got plans."

"You don't understand. Mr Greifeld wants you to come."

Gregory started to talk money, and in a few minutes I was so excited that I forgot to cancel my squash game.

So Bob has this blazer. "I've had it for 30 years," he told the crowd at Luttrellstown. "And I'm no happier now than I was then."

Then Bob started to talk about WB Yeats, the virtue of simplicity and what it meant to be in Ireland, "the land of leprechauns and folklore".

Bob is the president of Nasdaq, one of the biggest stock markets anywhere. He doesn't get much time for holidays and this year wanted to do something special. So he hired Gregory Patrick from Tours of Enchantment in Houston, Texas.

The budget for the week was $ 500,000. That included the hire of two food critics, a wine expert from Berry Brothers & Rudd, a medieval theme village with 30 archers and comely maidens, three tenors, the Dutch Royal Family's butler, four PhD students from Trinity College and a busker called Garry, who Gregory 'met' on Grafton Street last Monday.

At the end of night at Luttrellstown I was asked for my professional opinion.

"To be honest," I said, "I think that food is often irrelevant and this is a perfect example of that."

"Oh yeah?" said the man beside me. "Well, look at this place. It's beautiful, right? You're all having fun with your family. But will you remember what you had to eat in ten years' time?"

He paused for a moment. "You know, I agree. Back home, we've got 400 restaurants, and every time . . ." I didn't catch the rest of the sentence.

Humbled, embarrassed or both, I silently wondered what it's like to be that rich. After a minute I realised that the man beside me was tapping me with a packet of sweets. "Starburst?"

The following morning, Bob and his family got up at 4.30am to fly to Edinburgh. For the day. They were playing golf at St Andrew's and going for tea on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

How do you think they got to Edinburgh? Private jet? No. Ryanair.

"If you can dream it," says Gregory Patrick, "I can make it happen."

Trevor White is the publisher of the 'Dubliner' magazine

Trevor White


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Copyright 2004 The Sunday Independent

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